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lost in the cloudRemember Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)? When the topic is business technology solutions, nobody talks about SOA anymore.  Yet just 10 years ago, SOA was the hot topic in enterprise IT.

Back then, our teams were busy helping clients play, develop, and deploy SOA projects that seamlessly integrated hundreds of critical applications.  Want to know a secret? We’re still doing it today – but nobody calls it SOA anymore.  Today’s services resource planning vocabulary is filled with terms like cloud computing, big data, enterprise application solutions, and strategic enterprise development.  But for most organizations, the goal remains unchanged: deliver mission-critical services to a user base with ever increasing demands and device diversity.  And of course, those services have to be delivered reliably and securely, and within the available budget.

The best and most effective way to move into the cloud for more organizations is to approach the process with the same business technology solutions that might have once been called SOA.  So while vendor marketing hype has moved on, the strategy still has value.

One of the reasons that the term SOA fell out of favor when discussing enterprise application solutions is that SOA can be a complex topic. But it doesn’t have to be complex.  Services resource planning is nothing more or less than quantifying the systems, services, tools, and resources required to achieve a specific goal, be it migration to public or private cloud computing platforms or delivering any other set of services on a budget.

Enterprise application solutions aren’t just a set of products that are built or purchased, and then rolled out to waiting users.  Today, the best business technology solutions are more of a strategy than a product or even a kind of architecture.  That’s why we built our team around delivering solutions – not just consulting and training.

The truth is that a lot of cloud-based strategies fall apart when it comes to the day-to-day details.  Technology, after all, can’t force two corporate departments to share data, or convince reluctant users to standardize on a few basic applications and platforms when they want a free-for-all BYOD environment.  That takes vision, strategy, and hands-on management, based on a corporate structure that supports the vision.  In other words, you can’t really outsource a winning strategy – you have to have both internal and external resources in place to bring the vision to reality.

It’s one of the reasons that finding or building the right enterprise application solutions is just the first step towards a viable cloud-based architecture for most organizations – and that need for day-to-day management and policy enforcement is a key reason that so many services resources planning models call for strategic IT resources in the form of temporary or outsourced development help with a careful implementation and deployment strategy managed internally.

According to Gartner, API management is critical to migrating enterprise application solutions to the cloud.   That’s because without the ability to manage the APIs and make the disparate tools work seamlessly together, you’re left with a series of disconnected Web services instead of the smooth, efficient tools your users expect.

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